8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. 12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
After Paul reminds us that living in us we have a spirit of power, love, and discipline, he calls us to be bold in Christ. I think the last half of verse 8 can be a little misleading depending upon how you read it. Paul is saying that instead of cowering from the world and what they might do as a result of your faith, to stand boldly in the face of adversity even if it means to endure suffering. The original Greek word indicates “to suffer hardship together with one.” We know what this is. We experienced it when we put our arms around someone experiencing a great loss. We’ve linked arms with others in times of trial. We’ve helped push each other along during boot camp and even war. Right now the nation mourns the Sandy Hook shooting and we are scrambling to help and support those affected the most by it. It is this word that Paul encourages us to do with one another as believers in Christ for the cause of Christ. Why should we?
As we are united in the One Spirit of God, we realize His holy calling upon our lives as a community of believers not according to our works. It isn’t because we are good people or we are expertly skilled in one thing or another, but because He said so and He has equipped us accordingly. God has not only saved us from sin but for mission. You are not an accident and neither is your salvation. Furthermore, our appointment for His purposes is backed by Him, the One true God and creator of all things. So what then shall we fear?
Paul’s faith and encouragement comes from his trust in God. He encourages us to not be ashamed or disheartened through the things we endure on this earth because it is all in His hands. God knows what is happening and sees it. It doesn’t necessarily mean He enjoys it, but rather that He is using it for His purpose and as we experience His love, mercy, and power we learn to trust Him even more. As we trust Him more, we will learn that what the world does to us is unimportant and on the grander scheme of things inconsequential. To reword what Paul is saying in this passage, “I’m not concerned about being thrown in prison, ridiculed, mocked, or persecuted. I have a big God and I know that He has my best interest at heart. I’ve committed to following Him and being a Soldier for Christ in response to His calling of me to action for His Holy Purpose. Join me in enduring the silly things this world tries to use to stop us, for we are united with the Holy Spirit and given the power, love, and discipline of the One True God. The things of this mortal world cannot bind our hearts and we should be mindful not to act as if it can. Stand with me and fight, regardless of the circumstance, because Jesus is worth it.”